Chicago police officers posing as drug dealers caught dozens of heroin buyers in a reverse sting on Friday, after a separate roundup of a reputed gang leader and dozens of his crew members by the police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The operation targeting low-level buyers was different from most drug busts, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. These addicts were given the choice to go into treatment instead of jail. Forty-one of them took the police up on their offer. It was an expansion of the Chicago Police Department’s unique drug diversion program that began in early 2016. Until now, the program was limited to people who were caught selling small quantities of drugs — mostly to pay for their own drug habits.
The low-level buyers taken into custody Friday were looking to purchase “dime bags” of heroin for $10. Some rode the Blue Line L from the suburbs and walked to the open-air market looking to score their dope before going to work. Others walked from their homes in the neighborhood or drove up in vehicles. A van with an Uber logo even pulled into an alley on the block. Some of the buyers seemed confused they weren’t automatically going to jail or having their vehicles impounded. A woman suffering from withdrawals bummed a cigarette from a cop who warned her not to light up until she left the police facility. A down-and-out looking man instructed officers on how to start up his car: “You need to touch the ignition wires together,” he said